Making merry at Amenia’s holiday festivities and parade

AMENIA — The town of Amenia was in high holiday spirits this past weekend as the Amenia Fire Company and other local sponsors launched a lineup of family-friendly holiday activities — including the 10th annual Celebration of Lights Parade — for the community on Sunday, Dec. 5.

Kicking off at 2:30 p.m., local families took part in the variety of activities made available to them on Main Street, from crafts and musical performances to refreshments and more. Around 4:45 p.m., Fountain Square drew a jolly gathering of folks for the announcement of this year’s Amenia Citizen of the Year.

Town Supervisor Victoria Perotti announced that DJ Reilly had been selected as the 2021 Citizen of the Year. While Reilly was unable to attend the ceremony, his wife Judy and son Nick proudly accepted the award on his behalf.

Inviting everyone to take part in the countdown for the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, Perotti and her fellow residents were joyful and triumphant as they counted down the moments before the Christmas tree in front of the former M&T Bank building burst a twinkle with holiday lights.

With the tree casting a glow on Fountain Square, Perotti announced that anyone with an ornament was invited to place it on the tree from now until the New Year, and she wished everyone a happy holidays before cueing the holiday music.

As the Fountain Square festivities came to a close, families began edging their way toward the streets to get a prime view of the parade due to arrive at 5 p.m.

While they waited, they admired the decorated storefronts with lights, trees and other holiday trimmings.

In the days leading up to the Celebration of Lights, merchants were encouraged to decorate in a Winter Charm theme for the chance to win Best Window Display award. Parade participants were also encouraged to decorate their vehicles for the chance to win Best Float award. A $100 prize was offered to each of the winners of the two awards.

Suddenly a siren could be heard above the holiday music, growing more distinct as the music transitioned from one song to the next.

“Here they come,” parents murmured to their children, and all eyes turned up the street as the first float drove slowly toward the intersection.

As the parade embarked on its journey through the center of town, spectators were blown away by the spectacular lineup of floats. There were firefighters, Nativity scenes, decorated golf carts, The Grinch and Cindy Lou Who, a pair of horses wearing Christmas lights around their legs and holiday candy was even thrown to children along the sidewalks.

Local residents seemed to revel as they celebrated the familiar town tradition with their loved ones, while newcomers marveled at Amenia’s sense of holiday spirit.

Many gathered afterward at the Four Brothers Drive-In to admire the floats up close and waited for the announcement of the Best Float and Best Window Display winners. Town Clerk Dawn Marie Klingner said 22 floats were in the parade and six businesses participated in the window display contest.

“We were ecstatic by the amount of participation this year,” Klingner said, adding it’s always a pleasure to see the excitement on the children’s faces — not to mention their joy in seeing Santa and Mrs. Claus at the parade’s end.

Apple Antiques won the Best Window Display award while the Slater family of Millerton won Best Float. Following the announcement of the winners, families were invited to enjoy a free screening of “The Grinch” at the drive-in.

Klingner thanked the sponsors for putting the activities together to create a hometown feel. Those sponsors included the town of Amenia, the Amenia Recreation Department, the Amenia-Wassaic Community Organization, the Silo Ridge Field Club, Four Brothers and many others.

From left, Nick and Judy Reilly accepted the 2021 Amenia Citizen of the Year Award on behalf of their father and husband, DJ Reilly, this year’s award recipient. Photo by Kaitlin Lyle

Starting at the Amenia firehouse on Mechanic Street, a spectacular lineup of local fire engines, parade floats and holiday characters made its way up Route 343 toward the Four Brothers Drive-In Theatre as part of this year’s 10th annual Celebration of Lights Parade in Amenia. Photo by Kaitlin Lyle

From left, Nick and Judy Reilly accepted the 2021 Amenia Citizen of the Year Award on behalf of their father and husband, DJ Reilly, this year’s award recipient. Photo by Kaitlin Lyle

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